Congressional Armed Services Committee and others:
Via Fax: Armed Services Committee Office - (202) 225-9077
Senate Armed Services Committee and others:
Via Fax(s): Committee Majority - 202-228-0036; Committee Minority - 202-228-0036
Ladies and Gentlemen:
There is much attention across America and the world focusing on the Phoenix, AZ Veterans Administration Health Care System Center and the mistreatment and/or abuse of Veterans and their families. Documented evidence is becoming more indisputable to members on Capitol Hill, American citizens, and ‘main-stream’ Media outlets nationwide. An open, thorough, and totally exposed investigation will likely reveal a ‘cancerous’ sense of horror that exist in ‘many other VA Medical facilities’ and ‘other offices’ across America.
I, Oscar Y. Harward, am ‘victim’ of a betrayal by the Veterans Administration and have suffered profoundly due to their mistreatment.
The Veterans Administration continues to deny this Complainant’s ‘bi-lateral hearing loss’ which is diametrically opposed to Veterans Administration records based on my account, supported by on-the-scene US Military fellow witnesses and others, and not yet received US Army records. It is my understanding that US Army records with facts must be ‘sought out, established, and coordinated’ for corresponding decisions made by the Veterans Administration’s in Winston Salem, NC.
The Veterans Administration has a complete file on this Claim relating to my ‘bi-lateral hearing loss’, vs. the VA findings and/or lack of US Army records that the VA, obviously, never asked for nor received. I have signed on all release forms for the VA to ascertain all records, as requested.
May I offer a few item Facts relevant to the Official Claim and supplemental evidence as submitted by this Complainant to the Veterans Administration?
I, Oscar Y. Harward, hereinafter known as a Complainant am a veteran of the North Carolina Army National Guard, a division of the US Army.
This Complainant was in the NC National Guard, Battery B, Ist. Battalion, 113th. Artillery; a component of the US Army with a date of Enlistment on 15 July 1965, and discharged on July 14, 1971.
This Complainant declares that upon separation from the North Carolina National Guard (Battery B, Ist. Battalion, 113th. Artillery) on July 14, 1971, he received an ‘Honorable Discharge’.
This Complainant declares that on a Department of Defense ‘Order’ and on or about July 29 or July 30, 1969, that Battery B, Ist. Battalion, 113th. Field Artillery was in training at Ft. Stewart, Georgia on 105mm towed Artillery guns.
At the specific date and time of this training in 1969, and on a 105mm Field Artillery gun, this Complainant was assigned at a Field Artillery gun forward guard position placed approximately 50 to 100 meters directly in front of a 105mm Field Artillery Battery gun that is a reference in Item 6.
This Complainant declares that while battery B was firing 105mm shells with timed fuses, a timed fuse affixed to a 105mm shell exploded immediately, prematurely, and untimely after leaving the 105mm artillery gun tube of the Field Artillery field gun placed directly toward the rear of the forward guard position. The timed fuse of the 105mm artillery gun was projected for, and should have exploded some miles away, and above a designated and specified target. If released, US Army records will prove this defective timed fuse affixed to a 105mm shell was a World War II issue weapon; at least 24+ years old. This is undisputed evidence supported by other Battery B fellow soldiers as on-the-scene witnesses.
An emergency ‘Cease Fire’ was immediately called by Battery B Officers as this Complainant was injured and was checked by the Battery B Firing Officer and 2 other Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) on site. There were no Medical attendants at the time. This same Battery B Officer and two NCOs are the ones who present ‘sworn statements’ relating to this accident.
Prior to any additional Artillery firing, all other unused timed fuses were checked by Officers and Non Commission Officers to prevent any additional accidental, unpredicted, premature, and untimely accidental explosions. While Complainant’s ears were bleeding, this Complainant refused Medical care and refused to sign an official accident report. Firing Officers and Non Commissioned Officers on sight offered and encouraged Complainant to seek medical care.
Complainant refused medical help and official accident report offers as Complainant erroneously believed his hearing would recover, and Complainant believed any accident and/or personal injury claim would be representative as Complainant being opposed to the US Military, and/or the US Government. This Complainant’s personal position was based on President John F. Kennedy’s January, 1961 statement when he said, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” This Complainant also believed seeking medical help at the time would illustrate a sign of weakness for an Artilleryman.
Complainant states that his hearing was damaged from this unpredicted, premature, and untimely accident. Complainant has sworn statements from 1 Officer and 2 Non Commissioned Officers supporting this evidence; who were present and on-the-scene. Complainant further states that his hearing has never recovered.
During this time of service in the US Military and while in the field firing artillery, there was no US Army Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) instructions for soldiers to wear hearing protection; different from todays’ SOP instructions requiring hearing protection.
Complainant further states his decision for seeking Veterans Administration compensation and other assistance some forty years after the accident was due to several personal loses, and specifically, two Heart Attacks, one Stroke, and now six back surgeries; all that have left this Complainant totally disabled and unable to earn a living.
This summary is to point out for your knowledge in an Official Record within US Army files where there are facts relating to the Complainant that the VA has not retrieved and more likely never asked for:
This Complainant recalls that the US Army has at least 2 US Army Audiologist testing reports on this Complainant that are located somewhere in US Army files. This Complainant had one medical check-up in approximately January 1965 as directed by the Anson County Draft Board that ‘ordered’ a total US Military Check-up. This Complainant was ordered to meet in Wadesboro, NC at the Anson County Draft Board office and then transported with others by; I believe a Trailways Transportation bus (now Greyhound Lines) transporting me to Charlotte, NC for a US Military total pre-draft Check-up including a hearing test by a US Army Audiologist. This total pre-draft Check-up including a hearing test was completed at the US Army Reserves facility just a few blocks east of the Charlotte, NC square; then transported back to the Anson County Draft Board office in Wadesboro, NC.
There may be another hearing test by a US Army Audiologist in the summer of 1966 while the Complainant was ordered and stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC (better known at the time as Tent City) for a period of 2 weeks; under Department of Defense orders as directed by the US Army Reserves, 108 Division, Greensboro-High Point, NC base location area. Again, there were no reports relevant to this Complainant’s hearing other than that this Complainant had excellent hearing.
In or about March 1965, I received a letter of communication from the US Army and/or the Anson County Draft Board reporting that I had flat feet, corrective lenses for bad sight, and a number 1 finger amputated near the first joint on my left hand. Because of my right eye sight, my left eye and my left hand had caused my amputated finger to become my trigger finger. It appeared that I had been rejected.
Although, I did have a hearing test by a US Army Audiologist at the about January 1965 pre-draft examination at the time, there was no communication by US Army Audiologist’s report relevant to my hearing other than that I had excellent hearing.
In early June, 1965 I chose to go ahead and join the NC Army National Guard; only days before I received another letter from the Anson County Draft Board with orders to report to active duty in a draft. My newer decision to join the NC Army National Guard superseded the Anson County Draft Board’s orders. I wanted to serve my America!
Due to the US Army pressing for massive numbers of new troops in 1965 to be trained and sent to Vietnam, there was a major delay in all National Guard’s trainees going to any Army base for Basic Training as all Basic Training camps were packed to the limits.
In January 1967, I received military orders to report to Ft. Bragg, NC for Basic Training. Here again, at Ft. Bragg, the US Army did another full US Military Check-up; including a Hearing test by a US Army Audiologist at Ft. Bragg, NC. And again, the verbal report to me was that I had excellent hearing.
The US Army has an official record showing my excellent Hearing as determined by their own US Army Audiologist in about January 1965, a second US Army Audiologist Hearing test in mid to late January, 1967, and perhaps with other ‘Official US Army’ reports with a test report of ‘excellent hearing’ as verbally reported to me. Their own US Army Audiologist tests records will prove to confirm this evidence at these times.
Additionally, my request has been ignored by the Veteran Administration for the documentation of the dating of a 24 year old World War II issued 105mm Artillery faulty timed fuse exploded immediately after leaving the artillery gun tube of the Field Artillery field gun in late July or early August 1969, rather than exploding some miles away, and above a designated and specified target.
This Official Claim is and was based on my ‘bi-lateral hearing losses’ hat was created in the US Military accident in late July or early August 1969 that damaged my hearing.
When this accident happened, on I believe July 29 or July 30, 1969, I was posted, under order, some 50 to 100 meters, as a guard, directly in front of the 105mm Artillery Gun as directed by one of my sworn witnesses, 1st SGT Johnny Williams whom also served America as an Artilleryman in the Korean War.
It was an accident when at least a dated 24 year old World War II issued 105mm Artillery faulty timed fuse exploded immediately after leaving the artillery gun tube of the Field Artillery field gun, rather than exploding some miles away, and above a designated and specified target. This dated 24+ year old fuse was issued by the US Army Ordinance in Ft. Stewart, GA to our US Army NC National Guard unit on the US Army reservation. This complainant has asked the VA for evidence of confirmation of this dated World War II issued 105mm Artillery faulty timed fuse; without any response.
It appears the VA is denying the accident, my loss of hearing, and/or the 5 ‘Honorable’ US Military retirees and another sister who is a retired public school teacher’s sworn statement witnesses of this accident on this Complainant’s claim.
This documented ‘dated’ World War II issued 105mm Artillery faulty timed fuse and the official report of this incident is in a US Army file somewhere.
I certainly did refuse medical attention even thought my ears were bleeding. I truly did not wish to seek anything at any time for me from my US Government. Additionally, seeking medical help at the time would illustrate a sign of weakness for an Artilleryman.
The ‘bi-lateral hearing loss’ is clearly identified by on-the-scene Military witnesses of my hearing differences of before and after this accident. The US Army has official records of excellent hearing by US Army Audiologist tests on this Complainant in at least 2, 3, or even more Hearing tests beginning in 1965 and thru 1967.
My goal in life was to continue without the assistance of our US Government.
The record should show in US Army records that on at least 3 hearing test (and maybe more) by US Army Audiologist within early (January) 1965 through the spring (March) of 1967 whereas this Complainant had excellent hearing.
Over my adult years, and in a small effort to enhance the lives of others, this Complainant has participated as a volunteer and leader in many Not-For-Profits including the American Cancer Society; the American Heart Association; NC American Red Cross, Easter Seals; National Kidney Foundation; Boy Scouts for America; Rotary International; St. Jude’s Children Hospital; Lions International; United Way; Masonic Lodge 618; the Friendship Home of Monroe, NC; Union County, NC Community Shelter, and others.
This Complainant’s most gratifying memories of successes was an unorganized group of men and women in Monroe, and Union County, NC who normally on a daily basis had breakfast at Duke’s Grill in Monroe, NC and who sought out for many of those in needs; and then delivering their needs without any others’ knowledge. One success was to pay off a low 5 figure homeowners’ debt to a widow, immediately after the death of her spouse. Another was to present a rented home and utilities for a period of time to a substantiated case of an abused woman with 3 children, some 10 days before Christmas. The house included a presentation of an oil heater with fuel, all furniture, appliances, and groceries for food; then topped off with a huge ‘Santa Clause’ for the 3 young children.
This Complainant’s life all changed when Complainant suffered a 2nd heart attack, followed by a stroke some few days later on America’s Birthday, July 4, 2002 that left this Complainant totally disabled; with little resources without the abilities to work and make a living. This Complainant has often said the stroke left this Complainant with only my Salvation and my Social Security disability.
With this Complainant’s 2nd Heart attack followed by a stroke and several back surgeries at the time, this Complainant still did not seek Social Security disability. Dr. Larry Watt at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, Charlotte, NC came to my hospital room in Carolina Medical Center-Main, Charlotte, NC telling me that my working days were over because to my brain damage from a stroke. Dr. Watt told this Complainant that he, Dr. Watt, had submitted the Social Security disability claim on this Complainant.
After all these health and financial failures when later, at the suggestions of many others whom I served with in our Military and at work, insisted that I go to the Veterans Administration and submit an Official Claim for US Military related monthly compensation from the 1969 accident as explained in this declaration.
As for added information, my NC National Guard unit, Btry. B, 1st. Bn, 113th FA, Monroe, NC consistently finished Number 1 in all competition, with one exception. Even with that 1 failure, corrections were made immediately and Btry. B, again finished Number 1 in competition.
During my 6 year tenure in the Military, all members of Btry. B, 1st. Bn., 113th FA were professional soldiers in every respect; at all times. Battery B represented professionalism assembled with skilled, competent, and motivated men. Btry. B members took voluminous pride in our complete Battery B; its’ efficiency, and its’ effectiveness. We all worked together as a Military family.
Anywhere in the field on a Military reservation, our Battery B could be riding down a road in or on our Battery B trucks, when we unexpectedly, would receive a Fire Mission from the respective Base Command for a target miles away. We would stop our vehicles, separate the towed 105mm Artillery gun from the truck, set up our 105mm Artillery guns for firing, our Fire Direction Control (FDC) would plot the target on the map, provide the azimuth and elevation to the gun Sergeants, and those on the Battery B guns would deliver 105mm shells to or within the effective ‘target’ area within some 3 minutes of time. These war-practices were in real time and before lasers were introduced.
It is difficult for this Complainant to accept the Veterans’ Administration’s reject the decisions on this claim after the sworn statements of these ‘Honorable’ men’s’ entire careers of this Military Officer and four (4) NCOs as unreliable witnesses, while at the same time the VA is failing to ascertain the official records of the US Army concerning this Complainant’s before and after ‘bi-lateral hearing losses’.
It is my belief that most US Veterans would also agree that for the Veterans’ Administration to dismiss the sworn statements of these 5 ‘Honorable’ entire careers; of this 1 retired Military Officer and four (4) now retired (1 now deceased) NCOs as unreliable witnesses, while at the same time, for failing to ascertain the official record of the US Army and their records concerning this Complainant’s official US Army records before, during, and after his ‘bi-lateral hearing losses’ leaves a time of disgrace to the Veterans Administration and others. Based on this VA decision and other Veterans with ‘Honorable’ records, the VA is leaving Veterans naked without information as they are unable to file a complete claim while the VA and US Army may be refusing to ascertain and/or release the records and facts.
It is also my belief that most US Veterans would also agree that many officials in the Veterans Administration are just waiting on time for US Veterans and their witnesses to die; while leaving the Veterans Administration’s decisions unquestioned. One witness with his sworn statement in support of this Complainant’s claim has already died. Others are reaching the older age so as any of us may pass away any day.
Along this journey for Justice within the Veterans Administration, the VA has rejected this Complainant’s claim on several occasions with this Complainant’s appeal.
The mistreatment and other abuse of Veterans and their families as documented evidence is bringing more awareness to members on Capitol Hill, more Americans across our country, and the ‘main-stream’ Medias. An open and totally exposed investigation may expose a depressing ‘cancer’ of fear in America as the Veterans Administration are likely mistreating many other Veterans with similar problems in many other VA Medical facilities and offices across America.
In my very first meeting with the local county Veterans Administration meeting, I was told the VA was required to respond to all communications within 60 days. While this Complainant has abided by the Veterans Administration 60 day rule and/or law, the VA has failed on many occasions.
It appears that many employees within this VA office and others may be busy pushing paper, just to receive their paycheck, rather than serving the Veterans they are employed to represent.
There is still 1 VA appeal currently pending within the DC Veterans Administration; again with a February 21, 2014 video hearing between Winston Salem, NC and the Washington, DC office; as we are in wait after nearing a 120 day decision hearing process.
Yes, I am victim of a betrayal by the Veterans Administration and have suffered profoundly due to their mistreatment.
Oscar Y. Harward